If you’re going to be in the public square, you learn quickly that not every criticism is going to be fair, legitimate, or sensible. Most folks say they understand that, but when they’re confronted with something entirely ridiculous but presented with credulity, they freeze up, unsure how to respond. Toy brand Mattel recently found itself in that position after a pundit ridiculed the “Thomas & Friends” TV program by placing KKK hoods on the eponymous trains.
It was an allegation that almost derailed the premier of the latest installment of the Predator action/horror franchise. One of the actors in the film was a registered sex offender, guilty of trying to seduce a young teen girl. That might be scandalous enough, but it was soon revealed that the movie’s director actually knew this, but hired the actor in question anyway, not just for this movie, but for a few others.
The intrepid investigator who blew the lid off this story? One of the stars of the latest Predator movie, Olivia Munn. In the days leading up to the Toronto International Film Festival, Munn went public with information she learned about the actor’s criminal past. This revelation put the future of the film, and that of director Shane Black, in question just when the movie was set to bask in the spotlight.
Serena Williams was the queen of women’s tennis, the unassailable matriarch, boundary breaker and face of the sport. Then came the US Open loss, and, before that, a verbal clash with an official that many fans have said was out of line. Those fans thought Williams handled herself with grace and poise, despite the momentary and uncharacteristic outburst. Others said there was no place in the sport for slamming racquets and yelling at officials.
After an inspiring, if obviously uncomfortable medal presentation, Williams continued to be confronted by the media, trying to dig deeper into what was, clearly, a story that was not going away any time soon. Finally, Williams gave them a quote that caused the story to blow up even more. The greatest women’s player of her era, the woman some consider the greatest female athlete of this generation, “insinuated” without directly saying, that sexism played a role in the code violations that were levied against her during the US Open Final.
Another major company is apologizing for a data breach. This time, the company in the crosshairs is British Airways, which recently admitted 380,000 customers had been exposed in a data breach that happened between August 21 and September 5.
The breach is being called “the worst in British Airways history” and specifically affected consumers who booked through the company’s website or mobile app, which, these days, could be pretty much anyone.BA said no passport information was leaked, the company did admit that “personal and financial” details had been compromised. So, very bad news, all the way around. But, looking at the situation from a PR perspective, there are some things that British Airways did very well.
When Papa John Schnatter was ousted by the successful pizza company he founded, it may not have been an existential PR crisis, but it was certainly a walk through a proverbial minefield for the board deciding the company’s immediate future.
First, Schnatter was on everything. He was, literally, the face of Papa John’s and at the center of nearly all marketing and advertising. And, then, he was not. Schnatter was gone, persona non-grata at the office and in the commercials. As he continued to proclaim his innocence, Schnatter, by default, kept the company in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
If there’s any brand in America that knows how to grab headlines and drive narratives, it’s Apple. And, while some of the shine has gone from the Apple since the death Steve Jobs, a new “mystery” Apple announcement still gets a ton of press.
One key ingredient of Apple’s PR success tends to be that the company’s “secret” reveals aren’t really all that secret by the time they do the actual reveal. Apple has a very effective template for drip marketing that sends out bits and piece of information in a steady stream, allowing the company to keep an interested public talking about the announcement for months prior to the actual announcement.
Kickoff of the NCAA football season is right around the corner, and one of the nation’s premier programs will be without its celebrated head coach for most of the first month of the season. Ohio State University Coach Urban Meyer continues to defend his honor even as his suspension remains in place.
The Meyer situation continues to exert significant public relations pressure on both Ohio State and the NCAA at large. Over the past few seasons, college football has benefitted from a largely scandal-free existence, even as pro football has been a hotbed of controversy. Many jilted NFL fans have given up that game and focused entirely on college ball. Now, as they look out at the impending season, they see yet another scandal and, worse, yet another group of leaders that seems undecided on exactly how to handle it.
Years ago, actress Lindsay Lohan watched her brand peak, as she was on the fast track to becoming America’s sweetheart. Then, a series of decisions to shift her brand backfired, and Lohan ended up being more of a tabloid target than a Hollywood draw.
Recently, though, the actress chose to re-enter the public conversation. She spoke her mind in an interview with The Times, and the backlash was almost immediate. Lohan’s comments centered on her thoughts related to the MeToo movement, about which she said she was “very supportive” of women, but “can’t go along with the ‘attention seekers’ or trial by social media…”
Back in 2015, a new hashtag jumped onto the Twitter scene, pushing people to question everything they thought they knew about love and romance. The #SummerOfBreakups hashtag was the beacon for every celebrity breakup that took place that year. Importantly, the breakups didn’t just happen throughout summer either, the hashtag continued to trend well into Autumn too.
While obsession over celebrity love lives isn’t anything new for the modern world, the rise of social media has drawn extra attention to just how much time people spend thinking about the relationships of their famous idols. Psychologists and other people in the media have been left to wonder why people care so much about things like the #SummerOfBreakups. Now that summer is here again, we thought it was time to find out.
When a significant number or percentage of your customers make certain demands, how should a brand respond? That’s the question being answered all across social media these past few weeks. Many users want bad actors booted, but others say to do so would infringe on the free exchange of ideas upon which social media is ostensibly based.
Each of these sides has been busy building a narrative of layered messaging in support of their position. Now, when a company makes a related decision, they are linked with that entire apparatus of connected messages. It’s no longer an isolated incident, it’s being seen as taking a public stand on an issue. That may not be fair or even accurate, but that is the perception, and these companies need to craft their messaging with that in mind.